Oman Warned Not to Issue Visas to Liberians


The Ministry of Labor has warned the Oman government to halt the issuance of visas to Liberians seeking in the southwestern Asia country. The warning comes as the Arab country becomes a hotspot for trafficking. Many women from Africa including Liberia are trafficked there, tricked into thinking that a better life was waiting for them but end up working as domestic workers. Its kafala system of employment ties migrant workers to the employer who brings them to the Gulf, allowing widespread exploitation to persist, despite years of campaigning by human rights groups.

According to the US Department of State, Oman ranks at “Tier Two,” indicating a country that lacks to meet the Trafficking Victim Protection Act’s basic requirements but shows substantial effort to meet those standards. In Oman, employers confiscated passports, paid trafficking victims’ little salaries, forced them to work excessively long hours without breaks or days off, or denied them adequate food and living conditions. Some said their employers physically abused them, and a few described sexual abuse. This was what 27 women from Liberia were going through before their repatriation recently.

Issuing the warning, the Minister of Labor, Cllr. Charles Gibson on August 29, during a zoom meeting with Humaid Al Maani, Head of Global Affairs Department at the Foreign Ministry in Oman, outlined key points on behalf of the government that needs immediate redress. “We call on the government of Oman to suspend the granting of visas to Liberian ladies seeking employment in that country as domestic servants through recruitment by employment agencies,” the minister said. “Liberian females are not in Oman illegally because they were granted visas but are being held by their employers in a situation of slavery that amounts to human trafficking.”

“What is most disgusting is that when some of the girls escape from their employers and run to the police for rescue, the police would turn the victims over to their aggressors instead of providing protection and prosecution of the perpetrators,” Gibson said. Gibson then called on the Oman government to ensure that a response to a note verbal from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Liberia is acknowledged and replied to enable a high-power delegation from the country to pay a visit to Oman and discuss the issue of the Liberian girls trafficked in Oman.

It can be recalled that the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia on December 12, 2021, held an emergency meeting on the situation of Liberia women in Dubai and Oman that are working as housemaids in different towns of those Middle Eastern countries. The Taskforce revealed that the primary objective of the meeting was to consolidate information and respond to what is obtaining in those countries about Liberians that have been found in a difficult situation with those that transported them with the hope of getting employment and finding greener pastures.

Migrant workers seeking low-wage jobs continue to be at risk for trafficking under the visa-sponsorship employment system in Oman, which grants recruitment agencies and/or Omani visa sponsors significant control over workers’ residency and work visas and, therefore, their legal status in the country.

Although the government instituted initial reforms of the sponsorship system during the previous reporting period, this system continues to give employers the power to dictate the status of residency permits. Some unscrupulous recruitment agencies in Oman and their sub-agents in labor-source countries mislead migrant workers by providing fraudulent contracts with fictitious wages and charging exorbitant recruitment fees.

Some victims face working conditions significantly worse than recruiting agencies promised. Traffickers subject some of these workers to employment practices that constitute forced labor, including excessive work hours, passport confiscation, non-payment of wages, food deprivation, and psychological and sexual abuse.

Meanwhile, the zoom meeting was attended by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cllr. Deweh E. Gray largely focused on the protection of the victims in Oman. Gibson informed the people of Oman that every nation has an obligation under the United Nations chapter to protect foreigners within their borders and fringed on the attitude of the Omani government in ignoring three notes verbal from the Liberian government with the excuse of no diplomatic relations exist between the two countries.

He said the situation of the girls in Oman is putting a serious burden on the government and family members. He used the occasion to inform the Oman government of recent efforts by the government of Liberia in rescuing sixteen (16) trafficked Sierra Leoneans from their traffickers, ensuring that they were protected and their traffickers prosecuted and sentenced to jail.

Gibson said they have finally been repatriated to their home country with reintegration packages provided by the International Organization on Migration (IOM), noting how a responsible government should behave in the case of people being trafficked. He appreciated the Government of Oman for the Zoom meeting and said that the Government of Liberia was looking forward to meeting with officials of the Government of Oman in the shortest possible time.

The Head of the Global Affairs Department, Oman Foreign Ministry in Oman, Humaid Al Maani, welcomed the Government of Liberia’s request to stop the issuance of visas to Liberians for domestic jobs in Oman.

He blamed recruiting agencies for being responsible for the situation of the girls in his country as well as the media for sending wrong information on the ill-treatment of Liberian women in Oman and thereby complicating issues between the two countries. Maani intoned that out of the over five hundred female Liberian workers in Oman, only 26 have reported having problems, but expressed his government’s preparedness to work with Liberia to address the concerns expressed by Gibson.

Regarding the request from the Liberia Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the Note-verbal for a delegation of officials of the Government of Liberia to visit Oman, he said the request is welcome news that will be treated with urgency. The Omani Foreign Ministry official vowed to issue the note verbal to facilitate the Liberian government delegation’s travel to Oman. Several government officials and members of the National Anti-Human Trafficking Taskforce of Liberia were also part of the Zoom meeting between the two governments.

Liberian Observer

Posted by on Sep 13 2022. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply